Listen to the drummers–the two of them back there–from a perfectly recorded show when they HAD IT: when they do those long fills down every tom-tom they own and the beat starts all the way on the left and just whips around your skull at 90 mph, that’s just the best thing in the world, isn’t it? Those duk-a-duhs and when they got those rolling, the band sounds as if someone rolled a Medieval army down a cliff and recorded the clangor. (Bear did that once in 1971, to test out the specs on a new harmonica mike he was thinking about using if and when Slim Harpo showed up. Bear was nothing if not thorough.)
I’ve posted this show before, but it deserves a revival: 5/13/77 at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. Chicago! Badger City, Home of Shufflin’ George, those brusque but lovable Chicagoniacs! (I an not a geography buff and I made that clear when I applied for this job.)
Just keep typing, buddy.
The two of them are just monsters on this crisply recorded show and, quite frankly, it is best for the world that these two took up drumming. If Billy and Mickey ever got in a competition to see who could start the most fights, World War III would ensue within days. These coked-up conga hobbits were possessed of a rage that, were it e’er loosed, could bring us the brink of doom.
An intern* once suggested that perhaps the strategy of shooting speed into one’s eyeball while being shuttled between Des Moines, IA, and Normal, Il, like a piece of hairy luggage in some way exacerbated certain tendencies and then Billy burst into the room drunk and naked and accidentally shot the kid in the face, like 8 or maybe 9 times. Billy didn’t even know what the kid was talking about, it was just, you know, “time to kil the intern.” Like it is every full moon.
*The Dead had interns: college kids from UCSC, Hal Kant’s niece, at least three baby-faced drifters, S.E. Cupp, and Planchette. Don’t mention Planchette around the guys: his skill set was almost entirely concentrated in the field of looming ominously. Planchette was good at finding out addresses and he always dressed in very dark green, with nothing shiny or jingly on him. You know how in the vast majority of pictures of Keith, he looks like he just saw a ghost? Planchette. They should have gotten rid of him years before the incident, but he was the only one who ever got the coffee order right consistently.Don’t mention Planchette.